Jasmine Zumideh Needs a Win

Jasmine Zumideh Needs a Win by Susan Azim Boyer, Can be read in a few nights depending on your speed, Young Adult

(Thanks to Book Sparks for the gifted copy!)

Jasmine Zumideh Needs a Win is a perfect example of why diverse YA books are so needed, but also a perfect example of why YA books can be SO FRUSTRATING for adults to read. For pretty much the entire book I wanted to someone to tell her to just talk to an adult for advice! BUT, if I think back to my teenage years, I completely understand why she didn’t. And *that* is why books like this matter.

Because teenagers need to read stories about people who screw up like they do, get royally caught, and then do the right thing. And, just as importantly, they need to see that from people who look like them. Which is why I still really enjoyed this book. Plus, I’m a politics nerd and this book is a gift to politics nerds.

Jasmine Zumideh is a smart, driven, Iranian American senior prepping the application for her dream college: NYU. There’s just one teeny tiny problem: She said she was senior class president when she hadn’t won yet. Oops! 

A photo of Jasmine Zumideh Needs a Win surrounded by political stickers.

Listen. As a highly driven high school senior who also applied early admissions to my top school, I get it. I don’t know what I would have done if I thought there was something I was pretty sure I’d get and that I thought would help me get a leg up in my application, but I probably would have at least considered it. (This is all also why I’ve seriously reconsidered my classroom approach, but that’s a conversation for another day.)

To complicate it even more? The US is suddenly in the midst of the Iran hostage crisis, which forces Jasmine to reframe her campaign in ways she does not want. The election being set in the same time as the crisis, however, offers a great opportunity for readers to learn a bit more about both the US and the Iranian perspective and how xenophobia can easily be used for purposes that aren’t directly linked. 

I won’t spoil what happens or what Jasmine ultimately ends up doing. I will say that the way she thinks through all of the issues, stumbles, picks herself up, and really starts to develop her own sense of right/wrong is a great way to start conversations about ethics and being true to oneself. And, again, as a politics nerd, it’s a good telling of competing campaigns.

If you like Election, you’ll like this book.

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